Man responsible for ‘re-imagining the Harris’ is leaving

Posted on - 26th September, 2018 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Arts, Business, Politics, Preston City Centre, Preston Council, Preston News
The Harris Museum and Art Gallery will need a new leader Pic: Tony Worrall
The Harris Museum and Art Gallery will need a new leader Pic: Tony Worrall

The man tasked with ‘Re-imagining the Harris’ has decided to take his dreams to Bristol.


Jon Finch was brought in three years ago to oversee the bringing together of the Preston City Council and Lancashire County Council teams within the Harris.

The £75,000-a-year role was also responsible for the first failed Heritage Lottery Fund bid for major work to the Harris – including the controversial plan to modify the entrance way of the grade-I listed building.

A new lottery-bid is being submitted by Preston City Council for the Harris, although major changes were needed to give them a chance of unlocking the funding.

Jon Finch
Jon Finch

In an email to museum staff and Harris stakeholders, seen by Blog Preston, Mr Finch writes: “I wanted to let you know some news concerning my future. After three hugely enjoyable years, I will be leaving the Harris in November. I have been offered the role of Head of Culture at Bristol City Council, and have decided to accept the opportunity.

“I have talked the matter through with the Preston City and Lancashire County Councils, and we are considering a range of options to ensure that the transition process at the Harris runs smoothly. The commitment for the Harris to work closely with the Lancashire Museum Forum remains.

“The team and I here at the Harris will keep you briefed on progress.”

What the council have to say

Director of customer services Neil Fairhurst said: “We are sad to see Jon leave us, but pleased for him in securing this exciting new role. Huge thanks to Jon for the last three years and the progress he has made at the Harris in that time.

“The HLF process continues and we’re confident Jon will leave us knowing his best endeavours could result in a favourable outcome for Preston.

“Recruitment for an interim replacement is currently taking place to continue the Re-Imagining the Harris project.”

Heading to Bristol

Mr Finch leaves in November to take up the role of head of culture at Bristol City Council with responsibility for six museums.

A statement from Bristol Council to the Museums Association said: “Jon Finch has been appointed as the new head of culture, starting on 12 November. Jon brings a wealth of experience.

“In his three years in Preston, he secured Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation status for Harris Museum, significantly increased visitor figures and income, and played an integral role in raising the profile of the cultural sector across the city. We look forward to welcoming him.”

Mr Finch knows Bristol well as his wife was the director of Bristol’s museums, galleries and archives between 2009 and 2013.

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